LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) on Thursday announced a $90 million acquisition of mobile reader Pulse. While it’s a relatively small deal — in light of the company’s $19 billion market cap — it’s still of note.
Mainly for the simple fact that LinkedIn’s mobile platform is awful.
The roots of Pulse go back a couple years ago when two Stanford graduate students, Akshay Kothari and Ankit Gupta, began a school project. They were frustrated with the current news readers, and like many entrepreneurs, they figured there had be a way to make a better product.
They focused on mobile, trying to create an app with a dual goal of being super-easy to use while still providing great content. In a way, people would be able to create their own digital newspapers.
It didn’t take long for Pulse to get traction. In fact, even Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Steve Jobs praised the app. Pulse currently has about 30 million users and is available in about 190 countries, boasting relationships with over 750 publishers.
LinkedIn has provided few details on how Pulse will integrate within its massive network, which has more than 200 million users. But one thing seems obvious: the deal should help boost the company’s mobile DNA.
Let’s face it: LinkedIn’s mobile app is more of a combination of various functions that do not mesh well. The experience is a bit clunky, as it can take an agonizing number of clicks to get where you want. Pulse, however, gives LNKD an opportunity to revamp its mobile app.
As I pointed out in a piece about Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) Mark Zuckerberg, the mobile game is a must-win, and this is the case for professional networking, too. While many functions on LinkedIn still seem better-suited for larger forms like PCs, people still are migrating toward more mobile use. And on that front, LinkedIn looks more laggard than leader.
By purchasing Pulse, it’s at least an encouraging sign that LinkedIn realizes its shortcomings in the mobile sphere.
More importantly, Pulse’s mobile-first approach and success with user attraction makes it look like a good pick.
Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPO Playbook. He is also the author of High-Profit IPO Strategies, All About Commodities, and All About Short Selling. Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.